Photo: Edwin Smalling
Jenny Mui took over her late husband's passion project and made it her own.
Mui values the comfort of her pieces just as much as the colorful design: "I want the line to be a second skin for women."
Four years ago, Jenny Mui was more likely to be practicing yoga or attending a parent-teacher conference than crunching sales numbers. But her life as a stay-at-home mom took a drastic turn when her husband, Peter, died suddenly of a heart attack at age 56, leaving her with seven kids and the daunting prospect of helming his newly launched women's activewear line, YMX. "It was an incredibly fragile time to have to decide if I would continue the company," she says. "I was filled with self-doubt; I had never even been to a business meeting before." But if Mui, now 44, had learned anything from her nearly 12-year marriage to Peter, a man who sported electric blue hair on their first date and once pulled their kids out of school for an impromptu cross-country trip to the Grand Canyon, it was to embrace bold decisions. "He was impulsive," she recalls. "Whatever he did, he did in a big way." So she channeled Peter's sky's-the-limit attitude and went for it.
Mui didn't want to compromise the edgy, tattoo-inspired style Peter had first envisioned for the line of yoga pants, cycling shirts, and running shorts. Intricate patterns adorn each piece, a reflection of the couple's passion for the art form. Before Peter's death, the New Yorkers traversed the globe from Fiji to Vietnam and Brazil, commissioning original sketches from top needleworkers. "I'm giving artists an outlet for their designs," Mui says. "I can feel their energy when I look at the clothing."
Unlike Peter's extreme aesthetic (his motto was "Dare to wear"), Mui's take is softer, with a muted color palette, more delicate and abstract tattoos, and, most of all, an emphasis on comfort. "I want the line to be a second skin for women," she says. Now, as the self-described "heart of the company," she's involved in everything from social media to retail sales. "This line has become a mirror," Mui says, "for reminding me how I want to live my life."
— Zoe Donaldson
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